Food Notes for February 24, 2020

City of Edmonton Chooses Local for Golf Courses

Last week, the City of Edmonton announced that local company Robert Spencer Hospitality Group has been chosen to run food operations at municipal golf courses, including Riverside, Rundle, and Victoria Golf Courses. They are expected to open in April, and will be run under the name The Greenhouse.

Robert Spencer Hospitality Group also operates Workshop Eatery and Woodshed Burgers. Chef Paul Shufelt said, “We aim to continue the work we have done with Workshop Eatery and Woodshed Burgers to highlight great local ingredients and the flavours of the season while providing warm and genuine hospitality to our guests. In the months ahead we look forward to turning these venues into year-round dining and event destinations.”

Back in 2018, the City chose to award the contract for food services at Victoria Golf Course to multinational company Civeo, after local restauranteur Brad Lazarenko had run the successful Dogwood Cafe at that location for three years. That decision was widely panned.

Openings

  • Oliver gem Breadland Bakery has announced that they will be relocating to Garneau (the space formerly occupied by Noorish, 8440 109 Street).
  • Kari spotted a new cafe to open in the High Street space that once housed a Starbucks – Cafe Versailles is coming soon to 12507 102 Avenue.

Upcoming Events

  • West Edmonton Mall is hosting a Taste of WEM on February 25, 2020.
  • Filistix is hosting its second Kamayan Feast on February 29, 2020 (“kamayan” means “eat with your hands”). Tickets are $56.75 per person.
  • The Taste Alberta Brunch will take place at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald on March 8, 2020. Tickets are $65 for access to the buffet.
  • The High School Culinary Challenge Awards Dinner takes place on March 9, 2020 at the Edmonton Convention Centre. The top three teams will receive special recognition, and the 3-course meal will be based on the competition menu. Tickets are $35 each.
  • Start making your reservations for the annual Downtown Dining Week, which runs March 11-22, 2020 this year. 48 participating restaurants are offering two-course lunch and brunch menus for $20, or multi-course dinners for $35 or $50.

Reviews

Local News

  • Graham recaps the recent Pe Misto Indigenous event.
  • Both Kanto and Filistix made the list of Big 7 Travel’s list of 25 Best Filipino Restaurants in Canada.
  • Skip the Dishes now offers liquor delivery in Edmonton.
  • Nick Lees has an update on Chef Brad Smoliak’s heart condition.
  • While he didn’t officially make the podium, SC Restaurant’s Chef JP Dublado won the People’s Choice at the Canadian Culinary Championships earlier this month.
  • Congratulations to Team NAIT which brought home a bronze from the Culinary Olympics held in Stuttgart, Germany last week.
  • Edmontonian Moirae Choquette won a scholarship that will enable her to cook with acclaimed chef David Chang in Italy later this summer.
  • Co-authors Shane Chartrand and Jennifer Cockrall-King chat on Semi-Prose, a podcast from the publishing house behind their book Tawâw.
  • Jacek Chocolate Couture is receiving government funding to “expand production and reduce environmental impact through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.”

Urban Agriculture and Farming

Beyond Edmonton

  • One of the five Planet Organic stores in Calgary abruptly shut its doors last week, with officials claiming it to be just temporary.

What I Ate

  • We had a lunch with my colleagues at Sorrentino’s in Little Italy last week. While the menu isn’t the most exciting, I find comfort in their pastas, and never stray far from my order of veal canelloni.

Sorrentino’s

Veal cannelloni from Sorrentino’s

  • It’s been a while since we’ve had pizzas from the Italian Centre, but we ordered a couple pies for take-out over the weekend. It was pretty convenient; they were ready by the time we were done our grocery run!

Italian Centre

Margherita pizza from the Italian Centre

Food Notes for February 17, 2020

Forthcoming Forest Heights deli launches crowdfunding campaign

The owners of Fleish Delikatessen, a forthcoming deli and coffee shop in the Forest Heights neighbourhood, have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help them reach “the finish line”.

Cartago owner Katy Ingraham and business partner Kimberly Der plan to open Fleish in the spring of 2020, and have a goal of raising $30,000 towards the project. Located adjacent to Cartago, Fleish will provide “hearty and fresh food made from local ingredients, locally roasted coffee, tasty ice-cream and the best locally sourced deli meats and cheeses”, and offer hot breakfasts, lunches and coffee.

Crowdfunding campaigns are becoming a go-to source of revenue for local restaurant owners. The new iteration of Zenari’s, called Dalla Tavola Zenari, successfully reached their goal of $35,000 after relaunching their campaign late last year, and in 2018, the Black Box Hospitality Group surpassed its $100,000 goal for The Gibbard Block. Not all recent campaigns have been as fruitful; Culina’s push to raise funds for their Hawrelak Park lakeside cafe has been quiet.

Openings

  • Edmonton is home to the first branch of Burger Village outside of the US. The quick-serve restaurant is located at 6187 Currents Drive in Windermere, and prides itself on “exotic & grass-fed meats which is humanely raised and organic produce which does not contain any preservatives or chemicals.”
  • The Uproot Food Collective shop (10552 114 Street) is now open, featuring products from several local vendors, including Irvings Farm Fresh, Boocha, MoJoJo Pickles, and of course (as it is run by them), South Island Pie and Honest Dumplings. They’re offering 20% off on pies and dumplings until February 21.
  • Local chain Oodle Noodle has added a location in Terwillegar (#3, 2305 Rabbit Hill Road).

Closures

  • The Barking Buffalo Cafe will close its doors on March 23, 2020. The owners have decided to “move onto new areas of our lives and new creative endeavours.”
  • Arcadia will be relocating from their 124 Street digs to a new brewpub location. Their last day at their current space is March 21, 2020.

Upcoming Events

  • Alley Kat is hosting an opportunity to meet the new owners of Alley Kat on February 20.
  • The Expo Centre is hosting another of their winemakers’ dinners on March 3, 2020. Tickets for the 5-course meal (including wine pairings) are $85.

Reviews

Local News

  • Chef Jeremy Charles, based in Newfoundland, will be this year’s Hokanson Chef in Residence in March. Tickets are available for lunch and dinners with the chef on March 12, 2020; tickets are $39 and $65, respectively.
  • Highlevel Diner partnered with a non-profit to help them estimate the carbon footprint of all of the dishes on their menu, as a means to start conversations about sustainability and climate change.
  • Congratulations to Coffee Bureau and Lock Stock for reaching their five year milestones!
  • The Journal outlines what to expect from Guru’s new Ice District restaurant.
  • Also from The Journal – more details on the family behind Popowich Meat Company.
  • CJSR launched a new podcast called That’s Food, which will provide the “backstory to food in Edmonton, one meal at a time.” The first two podcasts feature stories about Kind Ice Cream and the 1986 Gainers meatpacking strike.
  • Stadium Yards announced their finalists for The Cut, a competition that will offer the winner funding and entrepreneurial support to build their business in the area. Finalists include Jack’s Burger Shack, The Grizzlar, Caribe Community Bar & Restaurant, Coffeecito, and Luna & Leo.
  • There’s a new coffee roaster based in Beaumont, called Brave Fox. Find their product at the Sobeys in Beaumont.
  • Coal Lake Honey Farm (a vendor at the Downtown Edmonton Farmers’ Market) announced the passing of Joseph Kent last week.

What I Ate

  • It was a privilege to be a part of the judging panel at Silver Skate’s Battle of the Neighbourhoods last week. We sampled a variety of stews, bread, and brews to determine the winners: Biera (representing Ritchie) won best stew; Brio (representing Oliver) won best bread; and Alley Kat (representing Old Strathcona) won best brew. Downtown will have to get ‘em next time!

Silver Skate

Let the judging commence!

  • Linda and I always have great lunches around Alberta Avenue, and last week was no different. This time, we dined at Mama Asha; I love their chicken suqaar sabayad wrap. Can you believe it’s just $10?

Mama Asha

Chicken suqaar sabayad wrap from Mama Asha

  • I met up with the Chinatown Dining Week crew at Noodleholic. It was my first time there, and we found the service to be fast and very pleasant. They feature infinite possible combinations through a build-your-own soup menu, so what we tried was just the tip of the iceberg. I enjoyed my choice of Little Sheep broth with tofu and wontons.

Noodleholic

Build-your-own-soup at Noodleholic

  • Mack, Emily, and I celebrated Valentine’s Day at home, a day made much sweeter with Bloom Cookie Co.’s annual Cookiegrams! It’s also great that $5 from every box went to the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. Emily loved chocolate chip cookies.

Bloom Cookie Co.

Cookiegram from Bloom Cookie Co.

Food Notes for February 10, 2020

Hathaway’s Diner is on the market

Owners of the beloved Wellington restaurant Hathaway’s Diner have announced they are selling the business.

In a post shared on February 5, Pamela and Lyle Charlet wrote that they will be retiring: “With a heavy heart we are writing to inform you of our hopes to retire from our small but widely adored diner…The truth is we are tired and would like the opportunity for some much needed rest and relaxation before moving forward with some of the other dreams we have been holding on to.”

They are hopeful that someone new will step in to take over the business. No firm date has been announced, apart from the possibility of a transition by March 2020.

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • Hansen Distillery’s Northern Eyes whisky will be released on February 11, 2020.
  • Stump Kitchen LIVE! will be featured as a part of the Chinook Series on February 14, 2020 at the Arts Barns. Tickets are $22.
  • The Downtown Business Association is hosting a panel discussion on food and the food industry on February 25, 2020 at Campio Brewing. Panelists include Patrick Saurette of The Marc and Henry Song of Buok Fresh Kitchen. Tickets are $10 and include pizza and beer.

Reviews

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • With the Hathaway’s announcement, Mack, Emily and I made a trip down to the diner over the weekend. It’s been some time since our last visit, but the hospitality is still something of a marvel. Emily and I shared some pancakes and eggs, but that didn’t stop her from eyeing up Mack’s eggs benedict.

Hathaway’s Diner

Eggs benedict with back bacon from Hathaway’s Diner

Food Notes for February 3, 2020

Doughnut Party Opens Second Location

Doughnut Party’s long-awaited shop south of the river opened last week in Ritchie.

Located at 9610 76 Avenue, it joins a number of sweet options available in the neighbourhood. Little Duchess, a smaller version of the popular bakery, opened last fall in Ritchie Market, and increased traffic to the building by 20%. Kind Ice Cream also opened last year.

Openings

  • BaoBao, offering “Shanghai street food” is now open at 10544 Jasper Avenue.
  • The Edmonton location of Peters’ Drive-In is working towards an April opening date.

Closures

  • Urban Tavern’s last day of operation was February 3, 2020. The Cabin will open in its place in March.
  • It sounds like several locations of Wetzel’s Pretzels have closed, including branches at West Edmonton, Premium Outlet Collection, and HUB Malls.

Upcoming Events

  • La Poutine Week runs February 1-9, 2020, with 8 participating restaurants in Edmonton who are featuring a special poutine for the event.

Reviews

Local News

  • The Writer’s Room is temporarily closed as they are looking for a new location after their building flooded.
  • Did you know Tres Carnales now has a catering arm?
  • Congratulations to KB and Company who are expanding to Kelowna with a location to open in March.
  • Three local chefs offer their tips for stress-free cooking – check out what Chefs Paul Shufelt, Jason Greene, and Lindsay Porter eat for dinner at home.

What I Ate

  • It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since Mack, Emily and I visited Route 99. Not surprisingly, not much has changed in our time away – it’s just as comforting of a greasy spoon as we remembered.

Route 99

Poutine at Route 99

Food Notes for January 27, 2020

City of Edmonton Makes Hawrelak Park Food Vendor Announcements

Last week, the City of Edmonton officially announced that Culina to Go will be the food provider in William Hawrelak Park. The contract length is one year.

Rhonda Norman, the Director of River Valley and Horticulture Facilities stated that, “We recognize the importance of working with local providers and we are excited to have Culina operating out of the park. This decision keeps in mind Fresh: Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy.”

Culina to Go operator Brad Lazarenko had spoken publicly about Culina on the Lake back in December, and launched his crowdfunding campaign for “Edmonton’s only lakeside cafe” earlier this month. Culina previously operated concessions at the Victoria Golf Course, ACT Centre and Rundle Park, before losing those contracts in 2018, and they will resume operations at the Muttart Conservatory after renovations of that facility are complete.

Openings

  • Woodrack Cafe is opening a second location, taking over Square One’s spot in the Premium Outlet Mall. They hope to open in mid-February.

Upcoming Events

  • Kind Ice Cream is hosting a fundraiser called Ice Cream for Breakfast for Momentum Walk-In Counselling on February 1, 2020. All proceeds from scoops sold from 9am-noon that day will go to the charity.
  • The Glenrose Foundation is hosting Charcuterie Night on February 12, 2020. Guests will learn how to put together a balanced charcuterie board; tickets are $99.
  • Prairie North’s February Cidermaking 101 workshop is sold out, but they have other workshops with spaces in March, including cider tasting.
  • The next Edmonton Eats event, a social enterprise featuring the cuisine of local host families, will highlight Somalia. Tickets for the March 21, 2020 dinner are $75.

Reviews

Local News

  • CBC highlighted Little Duchess that opened at Ritchie Market in October; in the story, the building’s owner shared that “Since Duchess came in we’re up 20 per cent year on year for the number of people coming through.”
  • Also from CBC, they analyzed restaurant inspection violations in the Edmonton area in 2018: poor cleaning cloth practices came up the most often at 18%. Inspection reports can be easily searched online through Alberta Health Services’ database.
  • This month’s episode of Avenue Magazine’s Sidebar Podcast features Phil Wilson, who discusses cold weather food and his experience as a judge on the Best Restaurants panel.
  • Local podcast Yeg.Me interviewed South Island Pie owner Jamie Scott about how he started the company and his work on the food business accelerator UpRoot Food.
  • Last week, I shared my (belated) 2019 Year in Review, summarizing what was notable to me over the year.
  • A forthcoming book called Tapping the West: How Alberta’s Craft Beer Industry Bubbled Out of an Economy Gone Flat covers the story behind Alberta’s craft beer boom. It is available for pre-order.
  • The sixth season of Kevin Kossowan’s From the Wild is now available to stream on demand.
  • Victor Hugo shared his recipe for maple-orange carnitas on the Passion for Pork blog.

Beyond Edmonton

What I Ate

  • Mack, Emily, and I finally stopped in at the new cafe on our street, A Bite of Brazil. They have a great deal right now: a medium brewed coffee and 3 units of cheesebread for just $3.95. The space is warm and inviting, the staff were super-friendly, and Emily couldn’t get enough of the cheesebread! We’ll be back!

Bite of Brazil

Cheesebread and coffee from A Bite of Brazil

  • We’ve started a tradition for Emily’s birthday gatherings to always include soft pretzels from Zwick’s, so while picking up our order, we also treated ourselves to some sandwiches. The McZwick really hit the spot.

Zwick’s

The McZwick’s is a thing of beauty

  • January can be a hard month to get through, but it is a little bit easier to do so with Love Pizza’s January feature – the mac and cheeza! We grabbed their 2 for $22 deal today on the way home for supper.

Love Pizza

Mac and cheeza from Love Pizza

Epicureous in Edmonton: 2019 Year in Review

It was an interesting year for restaurants in Edmonton, to say the least. While there were a number of high profile closures in 2019, most notably Hardware Grill, Noorish, and Manor Bistro on the independent side, as well as Red Robin’s and several locations of Tony Roma’s on the chain end of things, the scale was still tipped in favour of new restaurant openings.

The most anticipated addition to the scene was no doubt Filipino fast food giant Jollibee, which garnered line-ups even before opening its doors, and lengthy wait times in the months to follow. The splashiest entry was the arrival of Toronto-based O&B’s quartet of establishments (Braven, Kindred, Alchemy, Lobby Bar), contained in Ice District’s upscale JW Marriott Hotel. But what was most impressive was the number of locally-owned eateries that expanded this year, in spite of the flailing economy.

These include Baijiu’s addition of a burger joint in Royale and another bar in Pablo, Black Box Hospitality’s move into Highlands with Fox Burger and June’s Delicatessen, Farrow’s third shop on 124 Street, Workshop Eatery’s foray into burgers in Woodshed, Downtown branches of Tiffin and Filistix, and Duchess and Padmanadi opening up outposts south of the river.

All of these were added over a year that saw a provincial election called. Restaurants Canada, a hospitality lobby group chaired by Patrick Saurette of The Marc, campaigned against policies introduced by the NDP government, including a higher minimum wage and holiday pay. Teresa Spinelli, president of The Italian Centre, and Garner Beggs, co-owner of Duchess, both had to walk back comments made in connection with the campaign. After the incoming UCP government introduced a lower youth wage, in response, some restaurants committed to continuing with higher wages regardless.

Restaurants Canada

Here are a few other items notable to me in 2019:

  • Following the success of Ritchie Market, Oliver Exchange was not to be outdone. Also embedded in a mature neighbourhood, Oliver gained Brio Bakery, Iconoclast Coffee, Odd Company Brewing, and Culina To-Go in a single building. Also worth mentioning is the revamp of the former Sobey’s location Downtown, which subdivided, has flourished into a food-centric centre of its own, with international chains Dagu Rice Noodle and Gyu-Kaku adjacent to local contributions Tiffin and Pampa’s A Bite of Brazil.
  • Shopping centres have never been known for their love of local, but West Edmonton Mall welcomed a number of independent businesses last year. Calle Mexico, Splash Poke, Reinette, and Gangnam Street Food all opened additional locations at the complex.
  • Ghost kitchens, which cater exclusively to delivery customers, just started to take off in 2019. Big name players so far include Century Hospitality’s The Flying DoDough, and Leva Café’s Sepps Pizza.
  • Ice cream had a moment this year, with Calgary-based Made by Marcus opening up an Edmonton outpost, and Kind Ice Cream joined the Ritchie renaissance. Duchess also started serving up its own house-made pints.
  • A well-made bagel was easier to find in Edmonton, thanks to June’s Delicatessen and Bagel Bar (currently operating out of DeRose Fine Foods).
  • Edmonton finally made the jump to multi-day farmers’ markets in 2019. Newcomer Bountiful Farmers’ Market went all in, opening three days per week from the start. The Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market (formerly City Market) had a rough transition into its new Quarters location, but eventually landed on operating two days per week.
  • Edmonton-based chefs and home cooks had a banner year on TV food competitions. Most notably, Shane Chartrand (SC Damn Fine Food) competed on Iron Chef Canada, and Edmonton, through Alexei Boldireff (Baijiu, Royale) finally got its first contestant onto Top Chef Canada (albeit short lived). A number of local chefs also competed on Fire Masters (including Food Network darling Lindsay Porter of London Local), and home baker Nataliia Shevchenko was crowned the winner on CBC’s The Great Canadian Baking Show.
  • A number of cookbooks from local authors were published this year. Both Giselle Courteau and Karlynn Johnson published their second books, Duchess at Home and The Prairie Table, respectively. In tawâw, Shane Chartrand (with Jennifer Cockrall-King) shared the story behind his Indigenous roots and food.

You can check out previous year in reviews here.

    Food Notes for January 20, 2020

    Eat Local Magazine Announces New Editor

    Eat Local just celebrated its one year publication anniversary, having launched their first print issue in December 2018. Within that short time, they tripled their print run from 3,000 to 10,000 copies.

    This week, they announced that local freelance writer and CBC Food Explorer Twyla Campbell has joined the team as the new editor.

    As she described to Eat North, “My role is to help tell the stories behind the pictures and to connect the reader to the good, conscientious chefs and producers who feed us all."

    Her first issue will land in March 2020.

    Openings

    Upcoming Events

    • Starting January 22, 2020, Food4Good’s low-cost produce markets are relocating to Salvage Reclaimed Furniture (15308 Stony Plain Road) and will happen regularly every other Wednesday.
    • Culina Chef Brad Lazarenko has organized Pe Mitso, a collaboration dinner on February 9, 2020 celebrating the Indigenous roots of Brad, and Chefs Shane Chartrand and Scott Iserhoff. Tickets for the 5-course dinner are $85.
    • Winefest returns to the Edmonton Convention Centre on February 14-15, 2020. Tickets start at $87.
    • Join Avenue at their annual Best Restaurants event on March 16, 2020 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Tickets are $60 and includes food and beverage tickets.

    Reviews

    • Graham opines that the food at Calle Mexico’s new south side restaurant is “very good”, but “conventional”.
    • Jonny offers some photologs on Korean restaurant Machef, China Burger BBQ in Old Strathcona, and old favourite Sunbake Pita.

    Local News

    • The Tomato is accepting nominations for their annual Top 100 Best Things to Eat in Edmonton. Nominations close January 31.
    • Culina will be opening up an outpost called Culina on the Lake at Hawrelak Park. They’ve started a crowdfunding campaign with the hopes of raising $35,000 to help with expenses.
    • Cafe Linnea, along with some partner businesses, is sponsoring a free wedding, valued at up to $10,000. Interested couples have until February 17, 2020 to enter.
    • Bloom’s Valentine’s Day Cookie-Grams are back! They will deliver a box of their egg and dairy-free cookies for $35, with $5 from each box going towards the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. Orders will be accepted until February 7, or until sold out.
    • Speaking of Valentine’s Day, Linda has some great food-related ideas to help you celebrate this year.
    • The Journal offers some background on Chef Ben Staley’s new venture, Restaurant Yarrow.
    • Smokey Bear had received many positive reviews over the past few weeks, but its reputation may have taken a hit after well-known LGBTQ academic and advocate Dr. Kristopher Wells shared his negative experience dining out at the restaurant this weekend.
    • It was reported that Planet Organic has racked up thousands of dollars of unpaid bills with some local vendors, including Honest Dumplings.
    • CTV’s series Josh Eats Edmonton finally has its own landing page – catch up on segments featuring Nello’s.
    • The University of Alberta’s podcast What the Job? interviewed restauranteur Nate Box (of District, Fox Burger, and June’s Delicatessen).
    • In case you’re on the hunt for cheap eats Downtown, The Yards has you covered.

    What I Ate

    • It was definitely a soup kind of week, though I never need an excuse to return to Tau Bay for my pho fix.

    Pho Tau Bay

    My usual at Tau Bay

    • In the middle of the deep freeze, I met up with Su for dinner at another participating Chinatown Dining Week restaurant Youth BBQ. We didn’t end up ordering off the set menu as it was easy enough to put together our own sampling of their charcoal-grilled skewers (most only $2 each – it might possibly be one of the best deals in town). We both found their spicy and slightly sweet seasoning salt addictive, whether sprinkled on beef skewers or fried potato chips. We’ll be back!

    Youth BBQ

    Beef skewer from Youth BBQ

       

    Food Notes for January 13, 2020

    Local Talent on Western Living’s 40 Foodies of the Year

    Several Edmontonians made this year’s Foodies of the Year list, put out by Western Living Magazine. While the list will crown the “top 10” on March 7, 2020, three individuals were included among the forty finalists.

    Lindsay Porter was recognized for her take on British classics at London Local, Cyrille Koppert for his gem of a French restaurant in Partake, and Keenan Pascal of Token Bitters was highlighted for his line of locally-inspired bitters.

    Openings

    • Restaurant Yarrow and its accompany 12-seat Bar at Yarrow opened in early January. It is Chef Ben Staley’s latest foray into the Edmonton restaurant scene, after Alta and Alder Room closed in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Dining at Yarrow requires a prepaid reservation at $170 per person for a meal ranging between 18-22 servings.
    • Lan Noodle is the newest hand-pulled noodle restaurant in Edmonton, located at 10475 82 Avenue.
    • Ice District has a new tenant – Delux Burger Bar in the Edmonton Tower is now open.
    • Japanese Village is now open on BRBN St. at West Edmonton Mall.

    Upcoming Events

    • Kitchen by Brad is hosting Kitchen Suppers on Wednesdays until the end of February. They will be serving a 3-course, $35 dinner; reservations are recommended.
    • The third Nowhere Kitchen event will take place on January 26, 2020 with Chef Chris Tom-Kee, and focus on Chinese cuisine. As with their previous events, it is hosted by chefs of colour focused on their cultural identity and food justice. Tickets start at $30.
    • Filistix continues with its series of special events highlighting aspects of Filipino cuisine – this time, with a Kamayan Feast (“kamayan” translates to ‘eat with your hands’). Tickets for the January 31, 2020 dinner are $56.75 plus fees.

    Reviews

    Local News

    What I Ate

    • It was definitely a soup kind of week – I started with a warm-up at T and D Noodle House. Their bun bo Hue has perhaps replaced the two-colour vermicelli as my go-to dish!

    T and D Noodle House

    Bun bo Hue from T and D Noodle House

    • On the weekend, I met up with some friends at Chinese Hot Pot Buffet. I’d never been before, but I can see why they have many fans – the serve yourself (for most things) model means nothing stands in the way of you and getting food in your belly! I also appreciated the opportunity to have a chicken soup sauna for a couple of hours on a cold night, heh.

    Chinese Hot Pot

    Our (first of many) spreads at Chinese Hot Pot Buffet

    • Mack, Emily, and I went to Syphay’s Chinatown location for the first time for Chinatown Dining Week (which continues until January 19, 2020). They’re offering a great deal – either curry or pad Thai, plus soup and spring rolls for just $18. I really enjoyed the pad Thai, and Emily happily munched on the spring rolls.

    Syphay

    Chinatown Dining Week special at Syphay

    Food Notes for January 6, 2020

    CBC Names RGE RD and Corso 32 Best Restaurants of the Decade

    CBC Edmonton released their fifth annual Best Restaurants list for 2019, and to help round-out the decade, included their picks for best restaurants of the decade.

    Food Explorer Twyla Campbell chose RGE RD, who attributes their success to the fact that the restaurant is a genuine farm-to-fork establishment, where “the staff eat, live and breathe it, unlike others who profess to be, but fail to abide.”

    Radioactive host Adrienne Pan and food writer Phil Wilson selected Corso 32, based on its standards and consistency, writing that the restaurant “ushered in a new standard for quality and flavour.”

    The rest of the list includes neighbourhood-based categories, and a cheeky “don’t skip the dishes here”.

    Openings

    • Calle Mexico’s third location (in the former Atlantic Trap & Gill) is now open at 7704 104 Street.
    • Barbarella is a new restaurant at 17115 100 Avenue (former Milestone’s). They completed their soft opening week on January 6.
    • The Delta Hotel has opened their fully renovated restaurant and cafe in Edmonton City Centre, rebranded as District 102. Interestingly, they offer a 15% discount to “neighbours”, which I take to mean Downtown residents.
    • New cafe alert: Take Care Cafe is now open at 9621 82 Avenue.
    • Also on the cafe front, Overflow Cafe has taken over Da Capo’s Whyte Avenue location (8135 102 Street).
    • Love Pizza announced a second Edmonton location on the south side at Rabbit Hill Crossing.
    • BaoBao is a forthcoming Chinese dumpling and noodle restaurant that has replaced Watari Express at 10544 Jasper Avenue.
    • Wing Snob, an American-based chain, is opening its first location in Canada in the Brewery District (11988-104 Avenue).
    • Chain Leopold’s Tavern will be opening in the revamped Strathcona Hotel this summer.

    Closures

    • Holt’s Cafe closed on December 28. Liane wrote a beautiful tribute to the restaurant, incorporating the memories of lunching with her mother.
    • The Woodrack Cafe relocated to Old Strathcona, but that meant closing their original location at 7603 109 Street.

    Upcoming Events

    • There’s still time to enter Deep Freeze Fest’s tourtière baking contest on January 12, 2020! The deadline to enter is January 11.
    • Chinatown Dining Week runs January 9-19, 2020. The event showcases 16 businesses in Chinatown who are offering $18 multi-course dinners or $10 take-away deals.
    • Silver Skate will be putting on a series of Long Table Dinners from February 7-17, 2020, featuring a number of Edmonton, Calgary, and Saskatoon-based chefs. Tickets for the 4-5 course dinners are $150 per person.

    Reviews

    Local News

    Beyond Edmonton

    What I Ate

    • While I wasn’t intending on taking a break from the blog over the holidays, with family in town, it was a nice excuse to relax! It also meant we ate really well, and perhaps indulged a little too much. We started with a family brunch at OEB, which seems to have become a tradition for us.

    OEB

    My usual order of Confit de Canard

    • We also introduced some of my family to one of our Downtown favourites – Love Pizza! Emily is a fan.

    Love Pizza

    Our Meatatarian standard at LovePizza

    • My sister Amanda then introduced us to her favourite donair in the city, which she has to have while in town. Mack and I had never been to Swiss Donair, but clearly, based on the line-ups that day, it is well-known to the Edmonton community. We were amazed at how fast they were.

    Swiss Donair

    Mack attempted to finish the jumbo-size donair at Swiss Donair

    • We had a pretty great meal at Langano Skies; with such a big group, we were able to sample many of their meat and vegetarian dishes (I particularly loved the split peas with curry).

    Langano Skies

    Our beautiful platter from Langano Skies

    • We also had a chance to finally try the “bring your own soup pot”-style bun bo Hue from Calgary-based Bun Bo Hue Deli. Even after six generous bowls, the $40 pot my sister brought back yielded enough leftovers for at least another meal for four.

    Bun Bo Hue Deli

    Home-style bun bo Hue!

    Food Notes for December 16, 2019

    Chinatown Dining Week Returns for a Third Year

    Chinatown Dining Week is back for its third annual celebration of delicious eats in one of Edmonton’s most underappreciated neighbourhoods. It will be the biggest event so far, with a total of 16 participating businesses, doubling last year’s total.

    Running January 9-19, 2020, participating restaurants will offer $18 fixed priced 2-course dinner menus available after 5pm. In addition, a new category will feature other businesses that may not focus on the sit-down experience, and offer $10 takeaway packages. Full menus will be released the week of December 16, 2019 on edmontonchinatown.ca.

    Disclosure: while Chinatown Dining Week is an entirely volunteer-run initiative, I am the co-founder and a part of the volunteer team.

    Openings

    Closures

    • The Downtown location of Doan’s is currently closed for kitchen renovations until the New Year. The southside location remains open.
    • Looks like the renovated Garden Cafe in Chinatown was never really able to get off the ground; it is now permanently closed.

    Upcoming Events

    • Formosa Bistro is celebrating their second anniversary with lion dances and discounts on December 21 and 22, 2019.
    • The menu for The Marc’s special brunch on December 29, 2019 is now up; call the restaurant for reservations.
    • Save the date for Silver Skate’s new Battle of the Neighbourhoods event on February 12, 2020. Restaurants representing 4 neighbourhoods (Oliver, Ritchie, Downtown, Old Strathcona) will be judged on their best stew creations. Entrance to the event is free, but tickets will be required for food and drink samples.

    Reviews

    • Graham reviewed Braven and states that it is “a satisfying replacement for the late, great Hardware Grill.”
    • Twyla raved about the traditional flavours served up in a modern way at Tiffin.
    • The Journal had a positive experience at Noi Thai (located in the former Viphalay space).
    • Stephanie shared her impressions of Brasserie Bardot after attending a media event.

    Local News

    • In the Journal’s latest Food Notes column, writer Tom Murray sheds more light on Royale and Pablo (both opened by Kevin Cam, the man behind Baijiu and Little HK), and also shares his favourite bites of the year.
    • The Yards’ latest Best in the Core includes categories for best brunch, best date night, and best grab-n-go.
    • Avenue vouches for the seafood poutine at eatery FrenCheese (8943 92 Avenue).
    • Also from Avenue – check out their Christmas Day dinner guide if cooking isn’t for you.
    • Congratulations to Eat Local magazine, who just published their first anniversary issue!
    • Chris Lachance, the restauranteur behind the Century Hospitality Group, and designer Chris Kourouniotis commemorated their 20-year partnership this year.
    • The latest episode of “Josh Eats Edmonton” on CTV News features Old Strathcona mainstay Langano Skies.
    • The second episode of Global Family Favourites features Lisa MacGregor’s recipe for rosette apple pie.
    • Epicurean Adventure Tours founder Bryanna Kumpula-Yung started a pop-up called Adley’s Bakeshop in honour of her daughter; all proceeds will be directed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. Orders for cookies can be placed until December 19, 2019.
    • If you’re looking for holiday cocktail recipes, Avenue has some festive suggestions.

    Urban Agriculture and Farming

    • Exceed Solar is working with the University of Alberta to “study and perfect cold climate greenhouses in an effort to increase locally grown food supplies in colder climates.” The project includes building a solar powered off-grid greenhouse at the U of A Students’ Union’s community garden.

    What I Ate

    • Continuing to taste our way around Chinatown, the Chinatown Dining Week crew tried Shijing Taste Mixer last week, one of only a few restaurants in Edmonton offering Malatang street food. Named after a spicy mala sauce used to flavour the dishes, orders can be customized to include a variety of meat, other proteins, and vegetables, which are then stir fried with noodles and the sauce. It was a tasty and warming dish perfect for a cold night!

    Shijing Taste Mixer

    Chinatown Dining Week special from Shijing Taste Mixer

    • We don’t order Skip the Dishes very often, but a craving for Padmanadi on the same day as their infamous Christmas Buffets meant I was more inclined to choose the delivery option in favour of line-ups.

    Padmanadi

    Padmanadi delivery

    • The kouign amann from Lock Stock is easily my favourite pastry in the city, and it’s a treat every time I’m early enough to snag one. Mack also tried their snegl (a Swedish cardamom bun).

    Lockstock Coffee

    Lock Stock pastries